July 3, 2004
Disability and How to Vote (USA)
Many people who are disabled often use their disability as an excuse not to vote. If poor vision or limited mobility make voting at the regular polling place difficult or impossible, try using an Absentee Ballot!
Call or write your state Registar of Voters' office, and have them mail you an absentee ballot for the November election. Fill it out (there are instructions, and if you have an aide they may be able to help you), and be sure to mail it in *before* the election. I believe many states have deadlines for receiving absentee ballots, so be sure to get it in on time.
Save yourself the trouble of dealing with crowds and little bitty type. Take more time to look over the ballot and make your choices. Avoid any question you might have about the touch screen voting machines.
Arrange for your absentee ballot today! Make your voices heard!
July 29, 2004
I like eBooks - provided they are free of proprietary formats and DRM encumberances. They need to be as loanable as dead tree books, as portable as dead tree books, and as copyable for significant passages or chapters as dead tree books. So when this Clueless Article starts panning the concept based on past stupidity and starts praising Sony's draconian licensing regime as some sort of ideal, I get annoyed. Apparently the schmuck never heard of Baen's WebScriptions, the Baen Free Library or the Baen Free eBook Library (the last two of which are probably the same material with different home pages.) The only thing he got right was that the old formats like Rocket bombed, in part due to the lousy displays, and in part due to limited catalogue.
What he ignored is the reason that the catalogues of the early eBooks were so limited - proprietary DRM formats, with licenses that no sane publisher would touch. Baen doesn't make that mistake. Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing comes to a similar conclusion. Then again, I've been arguing about ebooks with various people, including Tim O'Reilly, since 1999.
So what is my dream for an ebook reader/platform? Simple. Take a PDA, and double its size. It should have the form factor of a trade size paperback, at most, and a regular paperback, at least. It's display must not flicker, and be a high enough resolution to make an bifocal wearing broad like me happy. It needs to have adjustable font size, too. It should do more than just display one format of book. HTML, and, if it's Palm OS, prc should be a couple of the formats supported, maybe even pdf (minus the crappy Adobe DRM). It should have slots for media cards with more books on them. SD is a nice, compact format, and so are a lot of USB keys. So an SD/MMC slot and a USB port would be nice. Then you can literally lend out a book series by keeping it on a card, and handing it to someone! You could even sell books on electronic media this way in a bookstore, instead of just download. If you really wanted a multimedia reading experience, you could bundle an MP3 player with it, and have a headphone jack - music to read by! You might even support other palm apps like a calender, an alarm/stopwatch (so you can tell when your reading break is over without having to keep looking at your watch.), and various other PIM tools.
July 14, 2004
Older, Fatter and Embedded
I turned 43 today, and I am getting older and fatter. Unfortunately, so is Linux.
It used to be you could do a full install of Linux, with X and all of the tools a server user would need for a few hundred Mb, and have room left for your home directory. Yet as little as 6 months age, I had the devils own time trimming RedHat down to install in less than 1 Gb, and I had to chop lots of utilities! I was ticked! Even Knoppix is a 7Mb CD, and it is a compressed filesystem!!
So what's an embedded developer to do? Your commercial flash drives run about $2006 - $4 for 12008 Mb. You can get a USB 2. 1. Gb for ~$2 (e.g. PQI Intelligent Stick). So you figure such a thing fitted into an IDE socket would be the same or more. Figure you have this to add to your small motherboard ($1), your processor ($1), your small case and power supply ($1), and your 512M RAM ($1). You are looking at a retail cost of at least $6, and that's before you add any software or peripherals. This is not a bargain. A third of it is flash disk.
If you could trim the memory and flash requirements to 64 Mb flash and 20056 Mb RAM, you could probably build your hardware for under $4 retail. You might even get better prices in bulk.
The problem, of course, is getting the Linux packages to run in that small a space. Yeah, there's BusyBox, DietLibc, and TinyLogin, but there aren't many like them, and none for printing.
July 7, 2004
Hey, comment link spammers! Guess what? You are hosed on this site now. If you have URLs with your script generated comments that point to crappy prn and p!ll sites, they will be deleted, unseen.
You are hereby inducted into my hall of shame, as too slimy to live.
Movable Type 3.D lets me whack your crap before it ever sees the light of the web. The only added feature to MT 3.D that is really worth the trouble.